Defamation: Army ex-chief gets bail

Former Army chief General (retd) V K Singh and four serving Army officers on Friday appeared before a magistrate’s court here in response to summonses against them in a criminal complaint by Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh,who was accused of offering bribe and spreading misinformation in an Army press release in March.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:July 21, 2012 1:37 am

V K Singh first former chief summoned by court in such a case; 4 officers also appear,get bail

Former Army chief General (retd) V K Singh and four serving Army officers on Friday appeared before a magistrate’s court here in response to summonses against them in a criminal complaint by Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh,who was accused of offering bribe and spreading misinformation in an Army press release in March. All five were granted bail on a personal bond of Rs 20,000 each.

General (retd) Singh,who is the first former Army chief to be summoned by a court in such a case,was joined by Vice Chief of Army Staff S K Singh,Lt Gen B S Thakur (Director General of Military Intelligence),Major General S L Narshiman (Additional Director General of Public Information) and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney.

“All the accused have entered their appearance. Since they are retired and serving Army officers,they are admitted to bail on furnishing of personnel bond of Rs 20,000 each,” Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja said.

Posting the matter for August 8,the court directed Tejinder Singh’s counsels S M Pandey and Anil Aggarwal to provide copies of documents filed by him on record to the accused. The judge also sought Tejinder Singh’s reply on an application filed by the four serving officers to drop proceedings against them for want of proper sanction from a competent authority for their prosecution.

“Without prejudice to the other rights and contentions available to the applicant under law,it is submitted that no cognizance or further proceedings in this case ought to have been conducted in view of the fact that no sanction under section 197 of CrPC had been obtained,” the application stated.

Earlier,the Delhi High Court had refused to stay the trial court’s summonses to three serving Army officers,including the Vice Chief of Army Staff S K Singh. The High Court said the three officers could raise the objection after appearing before the magistrate.

All five accused also moved an application under section 259 CrPC to convert the case from a summons to a warrant case,arguing that the case merited a more “complex procedure”.

“What the interest of justice demands is the fact that this case involved intricate details of the functioning of the Army. This is not a normal defamation case and requires a more complex procedure,” counsel for the four serving officers said.

The judge,however,said that if the case was made a warrant case the trial could go on for a very long time. Further,he observed that V K Singh’s reply to the notice sen to him by Tejinder gave the impression that he had clear foundations about the allegations against him. “So,trial will take very short time if your client comes straight away with the foundation of allegation,” the court told the ex-Army chief’s counsel,Mohit Mathur. The court directed Tejinder Singh to file his reply to this application too on August 8.

The case against the General (retd) V K Singh and the four others relates to a Army press release on March 5 which accused Tejinder Singh of offering bribes on behalf of Tatra and Vectra Ltd,which supply trucks to BEM.

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